Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Church is losing credibility. As a youngster, I attended Catholic schools and Catholic Churches. As an adult, I attended Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, even non-denominational Churches. Do I seem confused? Well it can be very confusing if you’re trying to decide what religion is right for you. In case you’re wondering, that last phrase was meant for non-Christians since Christians know that all of the aforementioned denominations are supposed to be Christian, right? As a child, I had no choice but to attend Catholic schools and Churches because that is where my parents sent me. When I became an adult, I quit going to church altogether out of rebellion. In my mid 30’s I saw a need to get back to my faith, and being naïve decided to attend a Southern Baptist Church thinking that there would be little to no difference in the doctrine. For the first time in my life, my eyes were opened. There was/is a huge difference in the doctrines of the two.
What I found was the Southern Baptist Church was actually teaching from the Bible and encouraged me to read along and study even after I left Sunday services. The Catholic Church on the other hand, discouraged such reading and studying of the Scriptures, and instead, relied upon the teaching of the Nuns and Brothers in the Catholic Schools to teach Catholic doctrine. So I bought a Bible and actually began to read it. I discovered that some of the things I had been taught in the Catholic Church contradicted what the Bible was teaching. Now that was confusing since (I thought) they used the same Bible. Now I know theirs is a little different, but what is more confusing is that they also rely on their traditions. Supposedly, the apostle, Peter (the Catholic’s first pope), passed down some doctrine by word of mouth to the next pope and that tradition continues today, even to their latest pope. Some of that tradition also contradicts even the Catholic’s own Bible versions. So what was I to think? What was correct? How was I supposed to reconcile the differences?
After attending other various Protestant denominations, I found myself suffering the same dilemma. Southern Baptists and United Methodists teach conflicting doctrine with one-another, as do Pentecostals and even non-denominational churches. And in varying degrees, their doctrines contradict what the Bible teaches. Now what am I supposed to do?
Of course, no church is going to be perfect. There is no perfect person therefore mistakes will be made on some doctrine right? Not so fast!
The Bible claims to be inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Didn’t men have a hand in writing it? Since the Bible claims infallibility, yet was written by mere men, is it possible that mere men can also be inspired by God to teach His infallible Word, correctly? Not only do I believe this is so, I believe it must be so.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
Why would God give some people the ability to be pastors and teachers, yet not give them the ability to teach His Word correctly? It makes no sense. Therefore, those who teach falsely, either intentional or unintentional, teach for their own agenda, usually for greed. They are either greedy for money, power, or both.
The effect this has had on the Church is devastating! The Church is losing credibility because of the greed of its leaders. Instead of being perfectly united in mind and thought as the apostle Paul taught, the church is divided (1 Cor. 1:10).
Some so-called Christian leaders don’t even believe the Bible to be infallible. Some teach the account of Adam and Eve as nothing more than a story, a way to teach the difference between right and wrong. Some teach that the theory of evolution is possible, that the account of God creating man on the 6th day was also just a story. After all, “…With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8. Some so-called Christian leaders undermine the authority of the Bible by dismissing Biblical history as nothing more than teachable stories. No wonder non-Christians are staying away! Can we blame them? We have no credibility! We teach from a Bible that seemingly contradicts itself, we separate ourselves from each other by denominations, we don’t discipline errant preachers, no matter how audacious their theology or behavior. Do we actually believe the Bible or don’t we?
The Bible is God’s Word, without error or contradiction. It is the only credible account of God’s interaction with His people. It is the only credible source for instructions to Christians about what God expects from us. If the Church wants to be credible, it must be willing to stand firm in the reality that the Bible is absolutely true, and then teach everything it says with conviction.
“Build your credibility before persuading. Understand what builds and destroys it. Protect it like a baby, because once lost it can be impossible to recover. Use it to gain commitment without having to argue your case.” changingminds.org
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